According to one of its official Twitter channels, Ken Livingstone will tonight resume his presenting role at Press TV, the Iranian regime’s English-language TV station.
He presented a book review show on Press TV until 2011, when he was ordered to give it up by the Labour Party leadership, despite not wanting to. Now, however, he is stepping up a gear – hosting one of the channel’s flagship programmes, Comment, in the absence of its usual star presenter, George Galloway.
Press TV has been banned from the UK airwaves by the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, after its failure to pay a £100,000 fine for last year broadcasting an interview filmed under duress with an imprisoned journalist. But you can still watch it online.
As readers will know, I myself presented a fortnightly show on Press TV – in which the Iranian government was regularly criticised and challenged – but gave it up in 2009, when it became clear that the station was becoming a propaganda mouthpiece for the regime.
This doesn’t seem to have greatly troubled Ken. In his previous outings on Press TV he made repeated attacks on Western “alarmism” about Iran’s nuclear programme, the “demonisation” of the Iranian revolution, and constant attacks on “Zionists” and “Zionism.” Like Ken, of course, Press TV has firm views about “rich Jews.” He continued to defend the channel even in his recent election campaign.
Although Ken is no longer a candidate for public office, he remains a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee. Whatever can the party think about one of its official representatives (or rather his tax-avoiding service company) taking payments from a regime on which Britain currently imposes sanctions?